Yellowstone by If Thousands (Review)

Yellowstone - If Thousands

Y’know, if someone had told me a few years ago that 2002 would see a Mormon-spearheaded hub of experimental music rise up in the American Midwest, I’d probably have laughed in their face. Really. But it happened, in Duluth, MN, with Alan Sparhawk (Low) being the requisite Mormon. Go figure. Through his Chairkickers imprint, Sparhawk has released his own Low and Black Eyed Snakes records, the downtempo melancholic folk of Rivulets and The Winter Blanket, and now the haunting minimalist drone of If Thousands.

If Thousands are Aaron Molina and Christian McShane, a pair of Duluth musicians who create massive atmospheric works with a mix of conventional instrumentation, abused electronics, and found sounds.

The knock on this kind of music has always been that it’s too sterile and abstract, but this is far from the case with If Thousands. Yes, you need to be prepared to give this record some time, but this is truly haunting, organic work, stunning in scope and often staggeringly beautiful. The duo laid their work to tape in an old cathedral with Sparhawk at the board and he gives the recording plenty of room to breathe, leaving spaces for the atmosphere of the sacred space in which the album was recorded to seep through.

Some people seem to think that music needs to have lyrics to carry meaning. Those people have obviously not heard enough records like Yellowstone.

Written by Chris Brown.


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